Government urged to tackle Scotland’s ‘alcohol emergency’ as deaths rise

Press release, Scotland news
23 April 2024

Campaigners have demanded action to tackle Scotland’s continuing “alcohol emergency” as new figures showed the rate of drink-related deaths is still the highest in the UK.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed alcohol-specific deaths across the UK had reached a record high, with 10,048 people dying in 2022.

While there were 16.6 deaths per 100,000 people across the UK, in Scotland the rate was higher, at 22.9 deaths per 100,000.

There were 1,276 deaths in Scotland in 2022 – with this the highest total since 2008 – with the latest figures showing that 836 men and 440 women died as a result of alcohol.

Deaths among women were up from 361 in 2019 – an increase of almost 22% – while deaths among men were up by nearly 27% over the same period, rising from 659 in 2019.

Dr Susanna Galea-Singer, chair of the Addictions Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:

“These latest statistics are truly alarming but worryingly, they may only be the tip of the iceberg.

“Working on the frontline in addictions we know hospital admissions remain at an all-time high and the pandemic only exacerbated the problem.

“Minimum Pricing may have reduced the number of hazardous drinkers but those who are dependent on alcohol will continue to drink – and this issue needs addressed.

“It’s clear we need more hospital and community addiction services that fully support individuals to maintain their states of recovery.

“But above all, we need to address once and for all, Scotland’s cultural relationship with alcohol.”


The figures were published less than a week after MSPs agreed to increase the minimum unit price (MUP) charged for alcohol in Scotland from its current level of 50p a unit to 65p.

The Scottish Government has said the price rise, which will come into force at the end of September, will help save lives.


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